Colleen Hannegan

Finding the words....and the perfect pair of glasses.

travel fear

Looking for the Pot of Gold.

TravelColleen HanneganComment

I am not an easy traveler. Oh I talk about where I want to travel and how I want to get there and what I'd love to see and how long I'd want to stay; often. I dream of seeing faraway landscapes and towering natural skyscrapers that allow us to stand before them in awe and remind ourselves how majestic this world is and how small and insignificant we stand before them.

Others travel where I wish to go, and I see the beautiful places vicariously through their photos and wonder why I don't travel more often.

And here's the truth. I tend to travel more to deep and dark and miraculously mystical places in my mind, in my early morning musings, in my spiritual readings and meditations, than to physical places on a man made map. I've been drawn to the soul maps within; they are my quiet places I long to wander and discover secrets and languages so old and full of mystery, one cannot so easily decipher. But I try. 

The other part of the truth for me is..... I'm more hesitant to travel in person, by plane, auto or boat because that unknown causes me much more anxiety than the inner travels I prefer.

What used to happen when I committed to a physical travel adventure, I'd come down with some malady that either caused me to cancel the trip or made me sick while I was in the middle of the trip. On my adventure to Italy with my daughter Leah in 2006, the night before we left, I got a cramp in my neck that stayed with me the entire 10 days we were away. Too bad I remember the pain I was in more than I remember the joys of walking through the duomo in Milano or taking a bus ride into the gorgeous countryside outside Firenze. Stress. Being in the middle of a divorce battle didn't help. But I think more than facing down Mr. Meany in court, I was afraid of leaving home ( my new cozy apartment) and all its familiarity and certainty. 

Not long after,  I took a trip to meet my sister in Reno for a 10k adventure and came down with strept throat as soon as I arrived. Trips planned then frequently cancelled. The list of physical freak outs before trips away from home endured for about ten years until I decided to trick my mind into looking at physical travel as a buried treasure map.

In my mind I saw a buried treasure map, all aged and yellowed with corners curled. Mountain ranges, desert valleys, rivers curling like snakes along the trails. And there, at some spot marked with a big yellow X, was where I would find my pot of gold.

Pot of gold.

Pot of gold.

I told myself my pot of gold was waiting for me on my future trips. It could appear as an interesting person I'd meet, a beautiful vista I'd see, an incredible meal I'd eat, a wrong turn that would become a right turn into an exciting drive along some beautiful spot in nature. The pot of gold was waiting for me to discover it. But only if I bravely and fearlessly ventured out to find it. And to be open to when and where it would present itself.

That's how I became less afraid of physical travel, by creating my own magic map to my pot of gold. It's worked nicely since then.

So on our road trip last week to Susanville in northern California to ride  mountain biking trails, here stood my pot of gold in this majestic old oak tree on a quiet street near our B&B. My husband and I were out for an evening stroll after dinner, wandering the local neighborhood before dark.

We turned the corner just as sunset made its way through the autumn leaves of this beauty and deep blue day was surrendering to early night. If you'd seen me, I was kneeling in the dirt before this "pot of gold" worshiping its magnificence and taking a few closeups with my iphone of the sunset performance and the mirroring wonder of that moment.

POG as one.jpg

The bark was the darkest black I'd seen, so maybe it wasn't an oak tree. The contrast in its dark and bright and luminescent shine above was a work of nature art. I'm known as a tree lover. I listen to trees and speak to trees on my frequent walks and rides into nature places. For me this tree represented a happy life being grounded in the earth for sustenance while reaching skyward to share its beauty in reflecting the sun. 

As my husband and I both stood there appreciating its glow and grandeur, I moved closer and realized it was one big base, yet spreading out as two. 

Celebrating our wedding anniversary on this adventure made this pot of gold a special gift for both of us.

Our enticing, beautiful planet Earth is here for us to wonder, to wander and to be wowed by its richness, our physical connection it it and its sacred specialness. Here we live and here we are sure to know its treasures waiting to be discovered around the corners of our everyday lives.

Two parts of a whole.

Two parts of a whole.

Digging for Gold When Away from Home

FeaturedColleen HanneganComment

Whenever I plan on a trip, or vacation or journey, or any overnight, out of town adventure, I freak out. The invitation to go and see and do something new always brings a rush of excitement. But after saying yes, and making plans, the panic attacks would begin.

The “what if’s” start rolling on in and in no time I’m wearing doubt like a pair of ill fitting shoes that pinch. What if the drive or flight is too long and uncomfortable? What if I forget to bring something I really need? (Of course I don’t know what I might really need, or forget, or want when I arrive, but what IF I forgot a very important THING? ) What if I don’t enjoy myself as much as I do when I’m home? What if I I’m too cold at night or too hot during the day? What if I don’t have the right clothes with me?

And then there’s the “should I’s”. Should I bring three pair of pants instead of two? Should I bring a skirt or dress because I seem to always wear pants only? Should I bring my morning prunes just in case they don’t sell prunes nearby? Should I bring the small tube of “travel” toothpaste I don’t particularly enjoy or pack the large tube of Vita-Myr I prefer? Should I bring my robe or are my jammies enough? What about slippers? Won’ they take up too much valuable room in my carry bag? I don’t want to take two overnight bags do I ? Or do I??

And then there are my choices for eyewear……………..

Truth is I’m so much less anxious then I was just a few years ago. I would go into such a panic, I would make myself sick and would therefore have to cancel. Once I woke up in the middle of the night after making travel plans, I thought for sure, I’d broken off a piece of my back tooth and therefore could not travel! My morning visit to my dentist assured me that no, there were no missing pieces and yes, all my teeth were still intact. I confessed to her my extreme “sky-dive” panic of taking trips. She was the first one I confided in that plans for travel keep me grounded and parked.

Ahhh, to cancel. I was always so happy to not have to go through the torture of packing decisions and monumental emotions of what it meant to temporarily leave the comfort and familiarity of home and habit. Confiding with my understanding dentist helped bring my problem out into the open for healing. She listened to me and held my hand and said the sweetest words I dont’ remember.

So to get over myself and solve the anxiety and fear I was allowing to limit my life experiences, I decided to play a game with myself. Every time an offer to take a trip came up, I imagined finding “gold” on this trip. Gold being, some wonderful nugget of experience that would make this trip really memorable. Maybe I’d discover something amazing about myself while I’m away. Or maybe I’d meet some interesting person, or enjoy an amazing meal or be a part of some gorgeous scenery. What if I learned some secret only available from this particular destination? What if a bit of magic and mystery showed up there, wherever “there” is? What if’s started sounding much more interesting.

Today I’m going on an adventure. That’s what I call “taking a trip” now. So when I woke up at 4 a.m. this morning and started in on my wacked out prune theories and stressing about what to remember to put in my cosmetic bag (earplugs), I brought to mind my “looking for gold”.

And while I will admit, to imagining my “adventure angels” traveling with me, praying for safety on the road, a perfect drive experience, no potholes traffic jams or rude drivers, bottled water within reach, my Payday and apple slices next to my seat, windows cleaned and seat properly adjusted, bags placed just behind me in the center seat, long sleeved sweater to prevent sun damage on my left arm and keep me comfy, the perfect pair of practical driving shoes, nothing too tight around my waist for adequate circulation, and cell phone properly charged in case of roadside emergencies and to let loved ones know where I am every hour…………. I will have fun. 

Here’s what Francis Bacon said about travel….”Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education: in the elder, a part of experience.”  So here I go on a new adventure experience!

Now, time to check the weather and the air in my tires………………….